Civil Defense (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 7) O’Brien accidentally triggers dormant Cardassian security protocols

Rewatching ST:DS9

Although some time ago Jake told his father he didn’t want to join Starfleet, the plot of this episode requires O’Brien to still be mentoring Jake as they putter about an unused ore processing room, so that when O’Brien enters the wrong passcode they can get locked in together with Sisko.

A recorded image of Gul Dukat addresses the Bajoran workers who have presumably started to revolt, giving them a TV-friendly 8-minute deadline to turn themselves in.

I was a little distracted during this episode because my Paramount+ account suddenly stopped playing nice with one of the of the anti-tracking plugins that I routinely use. I will henceforth always picture Dukat’s smirking face opposing my every effort whenever I try to wrestle with the Paramount+ app.  (More on that later.)

Our main characters are locked down in groups, where they must work together to solve their local problems.

The TNG episode with a similar premise was mostly character-based, and the episode is memorable for Picard being trapped in an elevator with weeping moppets, Worf helping to deliver Keiko’s baby, and Troi’s empathetic optimism rubbing against Ro’s cynical pragmatism. Sure those disasters were fun, but the writers contrived to make the characters act against type, which provided ample comedy and drama.

In this DS9 episode, by contrast, I felt like I was watching someone else play a Lego adventure game, as avatars pry open panels and doors, crawl through pipes, clear obstacles, and work furiously at consoles.

At a crucial moment, Jake refuses his father’s order to evacuate, reasoning that there’s not enough time for him to get away and he’d rather stay with his father.  But because Jake doesn’t snark or gripe even once, and because O’Brien is super efficient and focused, and because Sisko is his usual cool Space Dad, there was no interpersonal tension in their subplot.

In Ops, Kira is frustrated and cynical, Dax is calm and resourceful, and Bashir is wide-eyed and clueless. Again, no surprises there. Some extras get to run away or get vaporized, but they apparently have nothing to contribute to solving this week’s puzzle. 

When Dax injures her hands, I braced myself for a sequence where she has to talk Bashir through the process of technobabbling the jimberjam (because where’s a good TV-friendly voice-based computer interface when you need it), but we’re saved from that trope when Garak shows up to offer his help. 

Things perk up a bit when Dukat beams in, speechifying and posturing; this being TV, he is soon forced by circumstances to work with rather than against his enemies. Kira is stunned when Garak points out when Dukat is flirting: “She has much better taste than to be attracted to you. And you, a married man!

The Dukat storyline works well, but I found Garak’s shtick a bit forced, perhaps because this time there’s not even a hint that our favorite tailor might have an ulterior motive.

Much more successful are the scenes in security, where a moping Quark generates a taunt from Odo: “I’ve met a lot of Ferengis in my time and the truth is, although some of them may have been more wealthy, I’ve never met one more devious.” 

This reads like an insult, but the comedy is that Quark is touched — and then immediately tries to secure a contraband phaser. Later, the turns are tabled when Quark says of Odo, “They knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity is going to get us both killed. I hope you’re happy.”

When the crisis is over, Odo walks back some of his compliments, saying he was only trying to be nice because he thought they were going to die. As the two disappear into the crowded promenade deck, we hear their voice-over bickering as the closing credits roll.

Again the Odo/Quark bits were nothing new, but they were the highlight of the episode for me. But overall, I really didn’t enjoy watching this, because I actually had to open a spreadsheet to keep track of which combinations of browsers, incognito modes, and plugins I’ve tried and what were the error messages Paramount+ gave me each time.

Lots of waiting for screens to load, lots of refreshing pages, lots of “error” messages that seem like “you” problems that Paramount+ should figure out on its own.

No, Paramount+, you don’t need to access my computer’s motion sensor, or geolocator, or try to install 37 trackers (especially not the one that wants to connect to the Facebook servers). 

I’m kinda sorta interested in Picard and Strange New Worlds, but I feel like I’m doing battle every time I try to devote a little downtime to watching DS9.